Resources for Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Programs

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program is a broad term for approaches employing a student to facilitate or lead study groups for historically-difficult courses. Most often, PAL is used with college-level courses. Some of major models that have been adopted nationally or internationally include: Supplemental Instruction (SI), Peer Assisted Learning (PAL), Peer-led Team Learning (PLTL), Emerging Scholars Program (ESP, operates under other names as well), Structured Learning Assistance (SLA), Accelerated Learning Groups (ALG), and Video-Based Supplemental Instruction (VSI). The following resources could be adapted for use with nearly any PAL approach.

Resources to Learn More about PAL Programs

The following publications and online resources will help you explore the major peer assisted learning models operating at the postsecondary level.

  • Annotated Bibliography of the Major PAL Programs Bibliography focused on the seven major postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs indicated above. More than 1,400+ entries with many providing links to online versions of the documents. Endnote file used to maintain it is available to download.

  • Arendale, Pathways of persistence chapter This chapter provides an overview of the seven major postsecondary peer cooperative learning programs. Over 1,400+ annotated citations of them contained in the bibliography above. Many of them are available online through another link on this web page.

  • Professional Centers and Organizations Related to PAL Programs Several centers and organizations host conferences, training institutes, provide information through websites, and publish journals of interest to PAL programs.

  • Journals Directly and Indirectly Related to PAL Programs Several organizations publish journals devoted to PAL-related articles. Several other publications often publish articles of interest to PAL personnel.

  • "Must Read" Books and Reports about PAL Programs The professional literature about PAL programs is vast. These are a few I highly recommend for reading and reference.

  • Directory of Learning Technologies Short description of learning technologies and web links to more information about them. Some of them are links for resources needed to create a podcast. All the technologies described during my articles and workshop are also located here plus many more. Some of these will fade away as new ones emerge to replace them.

Podcast and YouTube Channels Related to PAL Programs

The following are a sample of audio-visual resources for more information about PAL.

  • PAL Groups Podcast Hosted by David Arendale, this audio and video podcast features interviews with student PAL leaders, research updates from David concerning professional publications, and more. The podcast can be subscribed through iTunes, Google, and other venues.

  • PAL Groups YouTube Channel The YouTube channel provides the same audio and video episodes as distributed through the PAL Groups Podcast and also David's conference presentations, webinars, and workshops.

  • Peer Learning YouTube Playlist The YouTube playlist is maintained by David Arendale to identify videos about a variety of peer learning programs such as SI, PLTL, and others.

Training and Professional Development Resources

Join the conversation with other peer administrators through the email listservs, listen to the podcast, and download the manual used at UMN to train PAL student leaders.

Facilitator Training Manuals and Activity Resources:

  • Arendale, D. R. (Ed). (2019). Draft Course Based Learning Assistance Best Practices Guidelines (3rd ed.) The purpose of the 80+ page set of guides is to provide guidance and practices that could increase their effectiveness and efficiency. There are twelve sections of the guides ranging from program evaluation to technology and everything inbetween. In addition to their use for academic study groups, these guides can be useful for faculty members to incorporate learning activities and pedagogies into their courses.

  • Benson, J., & Lilly, M. (2017). Peer-Assisted Learning Program: Guide for team leaders. This hands-on guide delves into such topics as meta-cognition, team member identity and participation, meeting/discussion topics and activities, and more. Interactive activities encourage readers to reflect on topics.

  • Lilly, M., & Sands, J. (2019). Guide for Peer Learning Facilitators. The eight principles that govern the program address topics such as cooperative learning theory, multicultural competency, metacognition, study strategies, and group dynamics. The book, updated in April 2019, also provides a directory of useable forms and worksheets and a bibliography of publications.

  • Paz, J., & Lilly, M. (Eds.). (2014). Tried and tweaked: Activities to re-energize peer learning sessions. This is a collection of activities designed and conducted by UMN undergraduate students for their role as facilitators leading study sessions. The activities were developed and tested during their weekly sessions and focus on two particular guiding principles of the PAL program (there are eight): modeling productive learning behaviors, and engaging students with each other. Each activity offers suggestions for preparation, supplies needed, appropriate courses, and the type of student grouping used in the activity.

  • Walker, L. (Ed.). (2010). Two (or more) heads are better than one: Adventures in leading group learning, a facilitator storybook. The PAL facilitators compiled a storybook in first person narratives, told by them and edited by one of the PAL program’s undergraduates - Lana Walker. The stories are a springboard for discussions of program policies, the particulars of cooperative learning, and a clearer understanding of roles and boundaries. The format is engaging; peer leaders find some of the stories “funny” and laugh along with the narrators about their experiences. Anyone working with undergrads will see how they can benefit from these honest and thoughtful reflections, carefully grouped by topic, with stimulating, open-ended questions at the end of each chapter.

  • PAL Training Handbook The basic training manual used with PAL Facilitators. It incorporates best practices from Supplemental Instruction, Emerging Scholars Program, and Peer Led-Team Learning.

  • CRLA Handbook for Training Peer Tutors and Mentors The Handbook for Training Peer Tutors and Mentors is a must-read resource for postsecondary faculty and learning center professionals who hire, train, and supervise tutors and mentors. This handbook prepares programs to apply for CRLA certification.

Email Listservs for Q & A Regarding Peer Learning and Learning Assistance

Professional Standards for Peer Learning Programs

These standards have been established by professional associations and organizations that represent the field of learning assistance. Several of them also offer certification, professional development, workshops, and training materials.

PAL Overview Presentation

The following items come from several presentations I have made over the years about PAL approaches for academic support.

  • Online PowerPoint Presentations about PAL by others As with the bibliography of online articles, this list is dated and no doubt filled with broken web links. The updated list of all documents is through the first item in this category, annotated bibliography of PAL programs.